The comfort zone gets a bad rap. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that our comfort zone is not a bad place to be. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to comfort us. Jesus even called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:26). Comfort is not the problem. Complacency is. I try to run from complacency. It lulls me into a false sense of limitation. Not about my limitations, but about God’s limitations!
The times in my life when I have grown the most, been transformed the most, have been times when I was called out of complacency into challenge. One of those times was after my junior year of college. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to go work as a camp counselor at Camp Lutherock—an outdoor ministry in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I wasn’t challenged by the “outdoor” aspect of this venture as much as I was by the “ministry” part! I knew my main job would be to help middle school kids navigate questions of faith.
I remember how the middle school age kids would show up at the start of the camp week. They were completely out of their comfort AND their complacency zones! Nobody felt connected. Everyone was sizing each other up, to see if they would be accepted, liked, and approved of. Our job as camp counselors was to facilitate the activities while the Holy Spirit turned this motley crew into a tight knit community. Ropes courses, hikes, creek walks, evening devotions and so much more were the “means of grace” during this week of camp. By the summer’s end, I realized that ministry was where God was calling me to be. God pushed me out of being complacent, to find a deeper, more joyful kind of comfort…that of knowing myself and my purpose in Christ better.
Every week at camp we made hand-churned ice cream. My campers always asked me: what kind of ice cream is it? I always said…it’s pinto bean ice cream! They knew that challenges were part of camp life, so they usually looked at me with concern. But I quickly set them at ease…”Just kidding, it’s peach.”
What’s your pinto bean ice cream? What new frontier are you being invited to try? Next month, I am co-leading a Men’s Retreat. The theme is Arrows of Adam. This retreat is for guys of ALL ages at the US National Whitewater Center on March 30. I feel the Holy Spirit urging this to happen. We need more ways for Christian men of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences across Christ Lutheran to come together and be shaped as followers of Christ because the things pulling us to complacency in our spiritual life are many. Guys, I invite you to step out and give this a go. I promise we won’t serve pinto bean ice cream…just really good food. You can register on Realm today.
What are the ways the Holy Spirit is calling you today to leave your complacency zone behind? Maybe it’s a new ministry idea you have been toying with. Perhaps it’s inviting a friend or neighbor with you to worship? The good news is that when we leave the complacency zone, we often discover more deeply how faithful and mighty God is. We also realize that no matter how new and challenging the task may be, we always remain in the comfort zone—because God the Comforter walks with us every step of the way.
PS: This coming Sunday, March 3rd, is one of several days when Christ Lutheran gives thanks for and recognizes outdoor/camp ministry. Randy Youngquist-Thurow, Executive Director for Agape Kure Beach Ministries, will be visiting Christ Providence. I hope you’ll come!